A Helping Hand
South Brunswick County veterans’ groups collaborate to assist a local veteran.
The goal of many veterans’ groups across the country is to “Take Care of Our Own.” Four local units representing three different organizations came together recently to do just that.
American Legion Posts 503 (Calabash), 543 (St. James) and 550 (Shallotte) partnered with the Veterans Affairs Committee of Elks Lodge 2679 (Calabash) and the Brunswick County Veterans Coalition to fund the rent for a temporary ramp at the home of Mike and Sandy Devine in Calabash. Mike is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Sandy called American Legion Post 503 in Calabash seeking assistance in obtaining a temporary ramp. Mike had just undergone amputation of his leg and was due to be discharged from the hospital. He required a wheelchair ramp until he was fitted with a prosthesis. The post referred her to service officer Al Grainer. After speaking with her, Grainer began calling around to locate the necessary assistance. While he was doing that, Sandy learned of a ramp company that could install a temporary ramp within days.
Sandy reached out to Next Day Access Wilmington. She spoke to Brett Tharp, CEO and co-founder, who informed Sandy that he had a technician coming back from a call in Charlotte and would stop by the following day to take measurements. True to Tharp’s word, Senior Field Technician Curtis Meurer was at the house the next day. Meurer took measurements and informed the couple that their garage would not support installation of a temporary ramp into the house. However, after taking additional measurements at the home’s front entrance, he announced that he had the necessary components on his truck and set to work. When he finished, a shiny, aluminum wheelchair ramp led from the driveway up to the front porch. The Devines were thrilled with the concern and professionalism of Next Day Access Wilmington.
In the meantime, Grainer was busy rounding up support to help defray the rental cost of the ramp. He first reached out to Charles Jackson at Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA) to see if they could help. This situation was outside of BFA’s charter, but Jackson told Grainer he would reach out to some organizations who supported veterans referred from BFA. Within a very short period of time, Grainer was connected with Steve Muir, service officer from American Legion Post 543, Ronnie Markham, commander of Post 550, John Corbett, co-chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee from Elks Lodge 2679, and Gary Crowden, chairman of the Brunswick County Veterans Coalition.
Each of these organizations stepped up to cover the rent for at least the next six months. The leaders of these groups met at the Devine’s home on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon to meet the couple, admire the beautiful wheelchair ramp and discuss other ways that veterans in the community could be assisted by future cooperative efforts.
Mike and Sandy sat on their porch and had several meaningful conversations with the attending officers of the veterans’ groups. The couple expressed their sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the assistance. Mike pledged to join the American Legion post in Calabash to pay forward the kindness and support that he received.